Who Was Black Cube’s “Commercial Client”?

Ben Rhodes is an unlikely target of a sophisticated smear campaign. He's the guy on the far left that you don't recognize, behind all the famous people.Anthony Behar / Pool Via Cnp/DPA/ZUMA

The New York Times has obtained a copy of the report that Black Cube compiled on Ben Rhodes, one of the Obama administration’s biggest proponents of the Iran Deal:

A detailed report about Mr. Rhodes, compiled by Black Cube, a private investigations firm established by former intelligence analysts from the Israeli Defense Forces, contains pictures of his apartment in Washington, telephone numbers and email addresses of members of his family, as well as unsubstantiated allegations of personal and ethical transgressions.

It is unclear who hired Black Cube to prepare the report on Mr. Rhodes and a similar report on Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., which were obtained by The New York Times from a source with knowledge of their provenance….There is no evidence in the documents that indicate any connection to anyone in Mr. Trump’s administration….One person with knowledge of the reports suggested that the company had been hired by a commercial client with an interest in opposing the nuclear deal.

Not the Trumpies, then—at least, not directly. Politically, then, this is of only minor interest. But I’d still like know what organization had a commercial interest in killing the Iran deal. It’s just not common for a corporate enterprise to think about smearing a political figure—especially an obscure one—as a tactic for getting what it wants. So does commercial really mean commercial, or does it merely mean “not an elected official”? Maybe a super PAC of some kind? Or a Sheldon Adelson donor type?

I’m pretty tired of everything being about Trump. If he’s truly not involved in this, that makes it even more interesting. Just who was the commercial client?

UDPATE: On the other hand, Julian Borger, who broke this story in the first place, says the “ultimate customer” was the Trump camp:


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.